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I recently delivered a brief presentation on how women buy and what role storytelling -- or interpersonal narrative -- has in the process. In the course of becoming more aware of current examples of brands that are using this form, I noticed an ad on the in-flight television as I traveled to this event.


Even with the sound muted, I kept one eye on the monitor, and that's when I noticed this sort of documentary-style video of people in their element (town, shops, homes) -- and then, the final screen was the Hitachi logo for the Hitachi "True Stories" campaign.
When I got to my hotel, I went to the Hitachi site to learn more.
Here's what they've done:
- Developed and filmed video tellings, interpersonal narrative-style, of the people affected by their technology.
- Included a more traditional, written case study on the True Stories page with each video.
- Avoided hardsell. Within those videos.. it seems like the first half doesn't really reference "Hitachi" as much as lay the foundation of the lives of the end-consumers of their technology. Even in the second half of the 5 minute videos (which are very well done, in my opinion) you don't get a lot of hardsell. In the one about a small town in Oregon, for instance, the entire thing seems to be all about the average Joe or Josephine who has benefited from Hitachi's work in their community.
Why does this work so well (for branding, especially)?
- Hitachi is a technology company, and it has previously been presented in a much more traditional, linear, factual way (fastest, best, etc...), so presenting their stories through the "who, what and why filter" goes much further to engage the end-user of their products.
- Consumers are looking for common ground with a brand. The more interpersonal narrative is used to connect Hitachi users and customers to one another around the brand, the better. Bandon, the small Oregon town at the center of one of the videos, for example -- is someplace I personally know, and it includes interviews with people who seem like people I might know, and a lifestyle to which I can relate (having lived in Oregon for almost 10 years in the 1990s). All of those, non-linear, more emotion-engaging elements, make the stories, and so the ads, very compelling for consumers like me. A technology brand that may have seemed like all the others previously, suddenly becomes more relevant.
As life is made richer by stories, so should marketing. Go ahead and try tapping the narratives at work all around your brand. There are likely thousands being shaped as you read this - so listen for them.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Andrea Learned
Andrea Learned is a noted author, blogger, and expert on gender-based consumer behavior. Her current focus is on sustainability from both the consumer and the organizational perspectives. Andrea contributes to the Huffington Post and provides sustainability-focused commentary for Vermont Public Radio.